Descent from Antiquity
of Charlemagne and Hugh Capet




Settipani (1983, 1993, 2000, 2014) is the main authority on the genealogy of the Merovingian Kings and Carolingian Kings of France, and the pedigree shown here in Lineage 1, is from his work. Settipani's research was preceded by Kelley (1947) and others, who rely on a ninth-century genealogy of Charlemagne to research a possible connection between Charlemagne and the Gallo-Roman rulers of Gaul, known as the Syagrii, who preceeded the Merovingian Kings. Settipani (2000) also investigated this connection, and his revision of it, with which Kelly concurs, is the basis for the hypothetical pedigree shown here in Lineage 2.

Unfortuntately, there are few contemporary documents against which to confirm these lineages. The main source is the History of the Franks, written in the late 6th century by Gregory of Tours. Also, there is a mid-7th century document known as the Chronicle of Fredegar that deals with the genealogy of the Merovingian kings, but the earlier generations appear to be based almost exclusively on Gregory of Tours. Furthermore, all subsequent chroniclers, in particular the oft-quoted 8th-century Liber Historiae Francorum, clearly draw from Gregory of Tours for the Merovingian parts of their pedigrees.



Lineage 1 -
(Descent of Charlemagne from the Merovingian Kings of Ancient France)

  1. Clovis the Ripuarian, King of the Ripuarian Franks at Cologne, living in 420 A.D. He is easily confused with the much better known, and much younger Clovis I, also called "the Great", who was King of the Salic Franks, and became sole King of the Franks in 509 A.D. when he added the Ripuarian kingdom to his own.

  2. Childebert, King of of the Ripaurian Franks at Cologne, living in 450 A.D.

  3. The final dissolution of the Western Roman Empire took place on September 4, 476, when Romulus Augustus, the last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, was deposed by Odoacer, a Germanic chieftain. This date is considered by some to be the Fall of Rome, and it divides antiquity from the start of the Middle Ages. However, others choose the year 486 for the end of the Empire, as that is when Clovis I defeated Syagrius at the Battle of Soissons, thereby ending Roman rule outside of Italy.
  4. Siegbert, the Lame (d. 509), King of the Ripuarian Franks at Cologne, he was murdered by his son Cloderic in 509, at the instigation Clovis I (c.466-511), King of the Salic Franks,who is believed to have been a close relative.

  5. Chloderic "the Parricide" (d. 509), King of the Ripaurian Franks at Cologne, he was executed by Clovis I, Kinbg of the Salic Franks, in 509 for the murder of his father. Clovis I then took over rule of the Ripuarian kingdom. The identity of Chloderic's wife is uncertain, but he is said by some to have married a kinswoman of St. Clothilde, the Burgundian Queen of Clovis I, King of the Salic Franks. Chloderic's Children include:

    • Blithilde married Ansbertus, a Gallo-Roman Senator who appears as Generation VI in Lineage 2. However, the ancestry of Blithilde is unproven, and she is not identified in any contemporaneous sources as the daughter of King Chloderic. Although written more than 200 years after the death of Blithilde, the Liber Historiae Francorum suggests a different parentage for her and records that King Clotaire (Lothar), the son of Clovis the Great, had seven children by Ingunde, six of whom are named by Gregory of Tours, and a marginal note in the Historiae adds Blitchildim as the seventh child. It also records that she married the senator Ansbert and was the mother of Ansbert's son Arnoul. The Wikipedia article on Ansbert adds more confusion by making Blithilde either the grandaughter of Clotaire I, through his son Caribert, or the grandaughter of Clotaire II, through his son Dagobert. Interestingly, Saint Doda, who is said to have married Ansberts' father, Ferreolus of Rodez, is also called a daughter King Chloderic, but the evidence for this is lacking as well. Thus, the ancestry of Blithilde is very uncertain, and there may be some confusion between Blithilde and her purported mother-in-law Saint Dode. Others suggest that both Blithilde and her husband Ansbert are mythical characters invented by medieval chroniclers seeking to glorify the pedigree of the Carolingian kings.
    • Munderic, who follows next.

  6. Munderic of Vitry-en-Perthois (d. 532/533). He was very young in 509, when his father was murdered. He may have married Arthemia, the sister of Sacerdos, who from 542 to 559 was the Gallo-Roman Archbishop of Lyons. However, Settipani (2014) states that Munderic's wife is unknown. He made a claim in 532 or 533 that he was a son of Chloderic the Parricide and asked for a share of the kingdom of Austrasia from Theuderic (Thierry) I, who subsequently considered him a rebel, and killed Munderic in a ruse. Given that Munderic only claimed to be the son of Chloderic, and that his claim is never confirmed in the ancient records, this is possibly a weak link in the lineage. If so, the lineage does not extend back to generation IV, and ends here. Munderic's sons may have been any, all or none of the men who follow:

    • St. Gondulfus, who follows next.
    • Baudegisel I married Palatina, dau. of Gallus Magnus, Bishop of Troyes (c.562).
    • Mummolin living in 566.

  7. St. Gondulfus of Maastricht, who in 599 became Bishop of Tongres. He may have married Palatina of Troyes (b. 547), the daughter of a a Gallo-Roman aristocrat named Maurilion Gallo, but others show Palatina as the wife of his possible brother Baudegisel I. It is St. Gondulfus, rather than Baudegisel I, who is more likely to be the father of the Baudegisel II, who follows. Apparently, it would have been highly unlikely in the day of Baudegisel for a father and son to have shared the same name.

    Traditionally St. Gondulphus is shown as the son of Munderic. However, there is a modern, alternate interpretation that has been proposed by Settipani (2014) and others that it is either Mummolin or his wife (name unknown), and not St. Gondulfus, who is the child of Munderic. Furthermore, this Mummolin and his wife are then the parents of the Baudegisel II who follows, and not St. Gondulphus and his possible, but disputed, wife Palatina. If all this is true, than St. Gondulphus does not even belong in this lineage.

  8. Baudegisel II (d. 588), Mayor of the Palace of Aquitaine and Duke of Suevem. He married Oda, a Suevian. He was murdered at Carthage while returning from Constantinople.

  9. Saint Arnulf or Arnoul (582-640), Mayor of the Palace, Bishop of Metz, and tutor of King Dagobert. He was born on or about Aug. 13, 582, and died Aug. 16, 640. Charlemagne himself believed that Arnulf of Metz was his great-great-great grandfather, and he communicated this information personally to his contemporary chronicler, Paul the Deacon. Arnulf is said to have married c.596 Dode, who may be a possible daughter of Arnoald, the Bishop of Metz, and the son of the Gallo-Roman senator Ansbertus, who is mentioned above. If so, Dode and Arnulf's son Ansegisel, who follows, may be a descendant of the ancient Gallo-Roman family of the Syagrii, who ruled Gaul prior to its conquest by the Merovingian kings. Lineage 2, which is hypothetical, but probable, shows this proposed descent from the Syagrii. However, there is no contemporary source that actually names the wife of St. Arnulf, the only evidence being an 11th-century life of her son Chlodulf that names her as his mother. (FMG ref.) Paul the Deacon, Charlemagnes's contemporary, did not address Arnulf's ancestry, and stated only that "he was sprung from a noble and powerful family among the Franks" (Moriarity, 1944).

  10. Ansegisel (d. c.662), Mayor of the Palace to King Siegbert. He married bef. 639, St. Begga (d. 694), dau. of Pepin of Landen (d. 694), Mayor of the Palace in Austrasia. Begga's mother was Itta, the sister of St. Modoald. There is no direct record for the parents of Itta, but it has been suggested that she was the daughter of Arnoald, Bishop of Metz, son of Ansbertus in Lineage 2. However, Settipani (1989) argues that it is actually Dode, the mother of Ansegisel, who is the daughter of Arnoald. He was killed prior to 679, perhaps about 662, in a feud with the nobleman Gundewin (Gundoen). (FMG ref.)

  11. Pepin of Heristal (c.635-714), Mayor of the Palace in Austrasia. He married Plectrude, but also had a mistress named Alpaida (or Chalpaida), the mother of his son who follows. (FMG ref.)

  12. Charles Martel (689-741), Mayor of the Palace in Austrasia. He defeated the Moors in 732 in the battle of Tours (some argue the battle of Poitiers). His first wife was Rotrude (d. 724), dau. of Leutwinus (d. 713), Bishop of Treves, who is better known as St. Lievin. (FMG ref.)

  13. Pepin the Short, (714-768), Mayor of the Palace. He deposed the last Merovingian ruler, and made himself in 751 King of the Franks. He married Bertrada of Laon (d. 783), dau. of Count Caribert of Laon. (FMG ref.)

  14. Charlemagne (747-813/14), King of the Franks. He is believed to have been born about April 2, 747, probably in Herstal, Wallonia (Belgium). He was crowned in 768 as King of France, and crowned on Dec. 25, 800 as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. He married c.771 Hildegarde (c.758 - 30 Apr. 783, dau. of Count Gerold of Swabia, also called Gerold of Vinzgouw. Charlemagne died Jan. 28, 813/814 at Aachen (Germany). (FMG ref.)
    He had eighteen children with eight of his ten wives/concubines, including those listed below.

    • children with Hildegarde
    • Pepin (777-810), King of Italy (Lombards), born Carloman but baptized Pepin, who follows next.
    • Louis I "the Pious" (778-840), King of France. Many descendants of Charlemagne trace their ancestry to him.
    Shown on the right is a medieval Carolingian family tree for the Emperor Charlemange. It was drawn up between 1098 and 1125 by Ekkehard, the Benedictine Abbott of Aura in Bavaria, more than 250 years after Charlemagne died, and included in Ekkehard's manuscript the Chronicon Universale. It shows the Emperor in the middle, with five ancestors above him leading back to St. Arnulf of Metz, and six descendants below him, all but one named Louis, who were Kings of the Franks. The ultimate source for this lineage is Charlemagne himself, who related his ancestry to Paul the Deacon (surname Warnefrid?), a monk who knew Charlemagne personally. Paul then included it in one of his minor works, most likely the Gesta Episcoporum Mettensium, which was a history of the Bishops of Metz. This lineage was subsequently included in a life of Charlemagne, written between 884 and 887 by a monk at the Abbey of Saint Gall in Switzerland, at the request of King Charles the Fat, a great-grandson of Charlemagne. The St. Gall manuscript was probably the source that Ekkehard relied on to draw the family tree.

  16. Pepin of Italy (777-810), King of the Lombards (Italy), son of Charlemagne and Hildegarde;
    b. April 777 as Carloman, and baptized Pepin on April 15, 781 in Rome.
    There is much uncertainty as to the names and parents of his wives and mistresses.
    d. July 8, 810 at Milan, Italy
    He is buried at San Zeno Maggiore in Verona, Italy. (FMG ref.)

  17. Bernard of Italy (797-818), illegitimate son of Pepin above;
    b. 797 at Vermandois, Picardy (France);
    m. 813 to Cunigunde of Laon, whose father is not known;
    d. April 17, 818 at Milan, Lombardy (Italy).
    He is buried at San Ambrosio in Milan, Itlay. (FMG ref.)

  18. Pepin, Count of Vermandois (b. c.815), son of above;
    b. c.815;
    his wife is not known for certain;
    d. after 859. (FMG ref.)

  19. Herbert I, Count of Vermandois (c.848/850-907), son of above;
    b. c.848/850;
    his wife is not known for certain;
    d. 907.
    Count Baudouin II of Flanders murdered him in revenge for the death of Baudouin's brother. (FMG ref.)
    Herbert II of Vermandois, and Beatrice of Vermandois are believed to be the children of Herbet I, but this is not documented by contemporay sources. However, it is very likely that Herbert II is indeed the son and heir of Herbert I. It is less certain that Beatrice of Vermandois is the sister of Herbert II. See the discussion in the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy.

    • Beatrice of Vermandois (c.880-after 931), who follows next.
    • Herbert II (c.884-943), Count of of Vermandois. He is probably an ancestor of Adelaide of Aquitaine, the wife of Hugh Capet in generation XX of this lineage.

  20. Beatrice of Vermandois (c.880-after 931), believed to be the daughter of Herbert I of Vermandois in Lineage II, and a descendant of Charlemagne;
    b. 880\883;
    m. probably in 897 to Robert I (866-923), King of France, son Robert the Strong, count of Anjou.
    However, it is possible that the marriage did not take place until 907 or later.
    d. after March 26, 931. (FMG ref.)
    No contemporary source explicitly states that Beatrix is the daughter of Herbert I. There is a later source that calls her the sister of Herbert II. See the discussion in the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy. This is the second major weak link in the lineage. If the relationship of Beatrice and Herbert II of Vermandois to Herbert I cannot be proven, then descent from Charlemagne, though likely, is still hypothetical.

  21. Hugh the Great (898-956), Duke of the Franks and Count of Paris, son of above;
    b. 898 at Paris, France.;
    m. 936 to Hedwig of Saxony (c.910-965), dau. of Henry I "the Fowler", King of Germany;
    d. June 16, 956 at Dourdan, France.
    Buried in the Saint Denis Basilica in Paris. (FMG ref.)

  22. Hugh Capet (940-996), King of the Franks, and son of above;
    b. 940 at Paris, France;
    m. 969 to Adelaide of Aquitaine (c.945 or 952-1004), dau. of William III, Duke of Aquitaine;
    d. Oct. 24, 996 at Paris France.
    Buried in the Saint Denis Basilica in Paris. (FMG ref.)
    20th in direct descent from Clovis the Ripuarian, King of the Franks of Cologne. This pedigree continues with the lineage showing the Isham Family line of descent from King Hugh Capet of France.

(The main authority for this lineage is Les Ancêtres de Charlemagne (2014) by Christian Settipani)







Lineage 2 -
(Descent of Charlemagne from the Syagrii family of Ancient Rome)

Although the following lineage of the Syagrii is popular with family history enthusiasts, it is nonetheless hypothetical, as it derives primarily from a brief genealogy of the ancestors of Charlemagne, the Genealogiæ Karolorum, which appeared sometime after the year 800. This document, which has been interpreted by Kelly (1947), Settipani (1989, 2000), and others, is similar in style to the genealogy of Jesus in the New Testament, and lists Saint Arnulf's father as Arnoald, son of the noble Ansbertus and his wife Blithilt (or Blithilde), daughter of King Chlothar I. It also shows the descent of Charlemagne from the Syagrii, a powerful Gallo-Roman family who ruled Gaul (ancient France) in the final years of the Roman Empire.

In addition to the Genealogiæ Karolorum, Kelly (1947) and Settipani (1989, 2000, 2014) also rely on accounts of the lives of various Merovingian saints, the writings of Bishop Sidonius Apollinarus (c.430-489), who married into the Syagrii family, and Gregory of Tours (538-594) history of the early Merovingian kings. However, none of these mention descent from the Syagrii. Furthermore, the contemporary Vita Sancti Arnulfi, which was written in the mid-7th century shortly after St. Arnulf's death, states only that he was of Frankish ancestry, from "sufficiently elevated and noble parentage", but it makes no claims that he was descended from royalty - Frankish, Roman, or otherwise. Because the Genealogiæ Karolorum appeared over a hundred years after Arnulf died, at a time when his family were seeking to legitimize their rule over the Franks by glorifying their ancestry, many dismiss this document as unreliable. Nonetheless, it is one of the foundations of both Kelly's (1947) and Settipani's (1989) argument of an unbroken line of descent from the ancient rulers of Gaul down to Charlemagne - a pedigree popularly referred to as 'descent from antiquity'.

    House of Syagrius

  1. Afranius "Flavius" Syagrius of Lyon (c.345-before 399) was a Roman politician and administrator under the Emperor Gratian. He came from an aristocratic family known as the Syagrii that originated Lyon in Roman Gaul (Modern France), and he lived at the same time as another member of his family, also named Afranius, who was a politician and administrator as well. Thus, the two men are easily confused with each other, and it is not always possible to separate their respective careers. He appears in some inscriptions as Flavius Syagrius, but the "Flavius", which means "golden", is apparently an epithet of honor, and not his real name. He, or possibly in some cases his namesake, is listed in 379 as magister memoriae, then from 380 to 382 he was a Praetorian Prefect of the administrative district of Italy, and he and Antonius were selected by Gratian in 382 as consuls of Rome. He is said to be buried near the city gate of Lyons, and nearby there is a statue of him that has been erected by the city.

  2. Syagria (b. c.390), dau. of Syagrius, married an unnamed member of the House of Ferrelous.

  3. House of Ferreolus

  4. Tonantius Ferreolus, (c.420-c.475), Prefect and Senator of Gaul, and son of Syagria. He was the Praetorian Prefect for Gaul when Attila the Hun in 451 was defeated at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains at Châlons-en-Champagne, France. Tonantius had estates at Prusianum (on the Gardon, near Nimes) and Trevidos (perhaps near Rodez), and married Papianilla (b. c.415). Ferrelous was also related to Syagrius, son of Aegidius, who was the last Roman ruler of Gaul, and it has been suggested, but is not certain, that Ferreolus and Aegidius were both grandsons of the Roman consul Afranius Syagrius, who appears above as Generation I.

  5. Tonantius Ferreolus (c.440-c.515), a senator of Narbonne, and son of prefect Ferreolus. He is believed to have married a woman named Industria, whose father may be the Gallo-Roman senator Flavius Probus (d. c.515), and whose mother Eulalia, was a first cousin of the celebrated Roman author, diplomat, and saint Sidonius Apollinaris (d. c.487). The writings of Apollinaris mention visits mention visits to the home of both Ferreolus the Elder and Ferreolus the younger.

  6. The final dissolution of the Western Roman Empire took place on September 4, 476, when Romulus Augustus, the last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, was deposed by Odoacer, a Germanic chieftain. This date is considered by some to be the Fall of Rome, and divides antiquity from the start of the Middle Ages. However, others choose the year 486 for the end of the Empire, as that is when Clovis I defeated Syagrius at the Battle of Soissons, thereby ending Roman rule outside of Italy.
  7. Ferreolus of Rodez, a senator of Narbonne area, and son of senator Ferreolus. He married, after about 520 or 530, Saint Dode, abbess of St.-Pierre de Rheims, who is identified in a much later source as the dau. of Chloderic "the Parricide", King of the Ripuarian Franks in Lineage 1. However, this relationship is unproven, and considered unlikely by many modern researchers.

  8. Ansbertus (c.520/530-590), a senator, and the son of Ferreolus. He is said to have married Blithilde, who is thought by some to be the dau. of Chloderic, King of the Ripuarian Franks, and by others to be either the daughter or grandaughter of King Clotaire I, son of Clovis I. The Wikipedia article on Ansbert refers to both him and his wife as mythical characters. Nonetheless the ancestry of Ansbert, and his marriage to Blithilde is considered probable by Kelly (1947), Settipani (1998, 2000), and others. Blithilde's parentage is much less certain. Thus, this is a weak link in the pedigree.

  9. Arnoald (560-611), son of Ansbertus, and from 601 to 609 or 611 Bishop of Metz. He succeeded as bishop his uncle Agiluf, who was a son of Ferreolus, Senator of Narbonne, and Dode, Abbess of Saint Pierre de Reims. His wife is not known, but he is believed to have had a daughter who follows.

  10. Dode, probably a dau. of Arnoald, she is thought by some to have married St. Arnulf (582-640), Bishop of Metz, a son of Baudegisel II in Lineage 1. However, as no contemporary source identifies the wife of St. Arnulf, this is another weak link in the pedigree of the Syagrii. Nonetheless, this is the relationship suggested by Settipani (1998, 2000). Also, Dode, wife of Arnulf, is easily confused with St. Dode, the wife of Ferreolus of Rodez, and many online genealogies erroneously treat the two as the same person.

  11. House of Charlemagne

  12. Ansegisel (606-670), 2nd son of Dode and St. Arnulf, continues as Generation IX in the preceding Lineage 1.

An imaginary portrait of the Emperor Charlemagne that was painted about 1516/17 by Albrecht Durer. No one knows what Charlemagne actually looked like, but this rendition of him is certainly the most popular of the many portraits that portray him.


(The main authority for this lineage is Les Ancêtres de Charlemagne (1983, 2014) by Christian Settipani)




Some Final Thoughts

Descent from Antiquity is a phrase that has evolved over the years to describe attempts by genealogists to extend ancestral lineages back to ancient times - in other words, back to before the 476 A.D. Fall of Rome. Many family historians believe that nearly everyone of western European ancestry is a direct descendant of the 9th-century Emperor Charlemagne. His ancestry can be confidently extended back another six generations to St. Arnulph (Arnoul) of Metz, who lived and died more than 150 years before Charlemagne was born. Charlemagne himself is said to have believed in this lineage, and it is confirmed by original contemporary sources. It is quite probable that St. Arnulph's ancestry extends back another two centuries or more, perhaps to either Clovis, the king of the Ripuarian (Rhineland) Franks, and/or to the Gallo-Roman politician and administrator Flavius Afranius Syagrius. However, some of the family connections of these ancient lineages are weak, due mainly to assumptions for which there are multiple interpretations. The final assessment is that the contemporary original sources needed to confirm some of the critical family connections of these ancient lineages either never existed, have been lost over the ages, or are unclear, and never were clear to begin with. Thus, no matter how popular the idea is of putting together a family tree that extends all the way back to two millenia or more, it is presently impossible to confirm these lineages, and it may never be possible to do so.






  • Fredegar (1960), The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar with its Continuations (Wallace-Hadrill, J. M., translator), Greenwood Press, Connecticut. This work, which is clearly based in part on the Liber Historia Francorum by Gregory of Tours, is a primary source of events in Frankish Gaul from 584 to around 641. Later authors continued the history to the October 9, 768 coronation of Charlemagne and his brother Carloman, using the Liber historiae Francorum as a primary source.

  • Foundation for Medieval Genealogy

  • Gregory of Tours (1967), The History of the Franks (Dalton, O.M., translator), Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2 vol. Written by Gregory, Bishop of Tours between about 575 to 594, this is the primary authority on the Merovingian Kings of France. It is made up of ten books and is generally known as the Historia Francorum (History of the Franks).

  • Kelley, David H. (1947), "Genealogical Research in Europe: A New Consideration of the Carolingians" in New England Historical and Genealogical Register, v. 101, p. 109-112. Kelly is often credited as the originator of the "Descent from Antiquity" theory that Charlemagne is a direct descendant of Clovis and the Syagrii. However, Kelley relied largely on an earlier paper by Moriarity (1944), which, in turn, was based on work by Depoin (1921), both works being listed below.

    • Moriarity, G. Andrews (1944), "The Origins of the Carolingians" in New England Historical and Genealogical Register, v. 98, p. 303-310.

    • Depoin, J. (1921), "Grandes Figures Monacales de Temps Mérovigiens" in Revue Mabillon, Paris, p. 245-258.

  • Liber Historiae Francorum (Bachrach, Bernard S., translator, 1973). This work, which translates to "The book of the history of the Franks", is believed to have been written about 727 and presents the origins and deeds of the Frankish kings and people. The early part of this work is clearly based on Gregory of Tours, and the later part served as the primary source for the later continuation of the Chronicle of Fredegar.

  • Racines et Histoire

  • Settipani, Christian (1983), Les Ancêtres de Charlemagne (1st Edition). This is the first of Settipani's works, of which there are several, in addition to the ones listed below. These are continually being revised, and updated versions are likely to be available in the future. Currently, Settipani (2000) & Settipani (2014), which are both in French, are the main authorities for extending Charlemagne's ancestry back to ancient times.

    --- (1993), La préhistoire des Capétiens, Villeneuve d'Ascq, 545 p.

    --- (2000), Continuite Gentilice et Continuite Familiale Dans Les Familles Senatoriales Romaines A L'epoque Imperiale, Mythe et Realite, Unit for Prosographical Research, Linacre College, University of Oxford, 597 p. Also Addenda I-III (July 2000, October 2002).

    --- (2014), Les Ancêtres de Charlemagne (2nd Edition): P & G, Prosopographia et Genealogica: Occasional Publications, 347 p.
    Summarized in Famille Royal de France, accessed Jan. 1, 2013.

  • von Redlich, Marcellus Donald R. (1941), Pedigrees of some of Emperor Charlemagne's Descendants, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 324 p.





Copyright © Michael S. Clark, Ph.D., 1998- - All rights reserved.